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Hospitality staffing platform bolsters local workforce

Mark Parker



Nearly 2,400 users have covered 3,283 hours of open shifts for 72 area hospitality businesses since Gigpro launched throughout Tampa Bay about six months ago. Photos provided.

A mobile application that helps restaurant owners mitigate workforce shortages, and hospitality workers earn livable wages, has launched throughout Tampa Bay.

Gigpro is a platform for people seeking gig work or those looking to supplement their income by picking up occasional shifts. The platform’s founder, Sam Mylrea, likened the app to Uber for restaurant staff.

The Charleston, South Carolina-based company began serving the Tampa and St. Petersburg markets in September 2022. Nearly 2,400 local users, or “pros,” have since worked 3,283 hours’ worth of uncovered shifts for 72 businesses.

“From the business side, I think it’s (Tampa Bay) becoming more and more of a culinary destination,” said Mylrea of including the region in his first 25 markets. “It’s also partly that there’s been a big imbalance of labor supply and demand.”

He noted the platform averages about 15 applicants per open shift in the roughly six months since it opened to area businesses and workers. That, Mylrea said, prevents managers from requiring existing employees to work double shifts and chefs from staying late to wash dishes.

The Tampa Bay market has shown a need for Gigpro’s services, and he said the company recently hired local staff to work directly with hospitality businesses. Mylrea explained owners and managers could create an account in five to 10 minutes, post a position and receive applicants immediately.

Gigpro users average $16-$18 per hour and receive payment once their shift is complete.

Former chefs created the platform in January 2020. Mylrea said the hospitality industry struggled with staffing issues before Covid, and the pandemic exacerbated workforce shortages exponentially.

“Four million people were laid off, and there’s still a decent amount that have not come back,” he added. “Meanwhile, restaurants are busier than they ever have been. So, it’s an interesting time in the hospitality world.”

Mylrea said 70% of the nation’s population worked in the industry at one point, so most applicants typically have some experience. He called Gigpro an on-demand marketplace built for restaurants, caterers, hotels, resorts and event spaces – like amphitheaters.

Clients post open dates, and available users then apply. The app’s pros – over 160,000 nationally – receive payment once the shift is complete.

Workers have collectively earned over $17 million.

The app is free for applicants, with a $15 hourly minimum pay rate. Mylrea said the average wage is $16-$18 per hour, which increases depending on the day of the week, role and amount of notice.

“If it’s like a Friday or last-minute shift that you’re trying to get filled, obviously, the higher you pay, the more applicants you get,” he explained.

Mylrea said schedulers ascertain uncovered shifts for the week and post open dates to Gigpro. The same pros typically apply with the same businesses, as Mylrea said both parties enjoy familiarity.

In addition, he said many companies use Gigpro as an auditioning tool before offering full-time positions. The platform does not charge a placement fee when one of its users becomes a regular employee.

Instead, Gigpro charges 18% of the shift rate. If a pro makes $20 per hour for an eight-hour shift, $160 goes to the worker, and the platform receives $28.80 from the client.

“Part of our mission has always been that we don’t want to stand in the way of any pro progressing in their career,” Mylrea said. “And it’s pretty unique … rather than looking at a paper resume, both sides get to see what it’s like working with each other before taking a full-time job.”

Sam Mylrea, founder of Gigpro.

He said hospitality skills are mostly transferrable, and pros learn specific menus and procedures through repeat shifts. Mylrea also noted that Gigpro works with companies ranging from Chick-fil-A to James Beard Award-winning fine dining establishments – and both are “very particular about their training and processes.”

“And it works for them,” he added. “So, I think we’ve done a pretty good job getting over that hurdle.”

Charleston has experienced a similar housing crunch to Tampa Bay, and Mylrea believes Gigpro can help residents in two ways. He said pros often already work in the industry and use the app on days off to help pay for increasing rent, groceries and other bills.

In addition, many hourly-waged workers can no longer afford to live close to their jobs. He said downtown restaurants must find new employees, and people displaced need employment closer to home.

“Maybe they’re a teacher now or work in another job, but they worked for 10 years in food and beverage,” Mylrea said of the pros. “Not only does it put more dollars in their pockets, but it helps the business make sure they’re not having to shut down during the week, lower hours or put the shifts on existing employees – who then end up leaving because they’re overworked.”



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